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Iraq’s premier vows to stamp out corruption in 2016

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during a ceremony marking Police Day at the police academy in Baghdad, Iraq, January 9, 2016. (AP photo)

Iraq’s prime minister says his administration will not relent in its determination to battle and eradicate corruption in 2016. 

“2016 is the year of eliminating corruption, there is no such things as acceptable corruption and non-acceptable corruption,” Haider al-Abadi said in a Saturday speech at a ceremony to celebrate Police Day in the capital, Baghdad.

The comments came following a criticism by Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who urged the Iraqi government to reform the current administration and take more serious measures against graft.

“A year has lapsed and nothing has been achieved on the ground,” Sistani’s representative, Sheikh Ahmed al-Safi, said in the holy Shia city of Karbala, south of Baghdad.

In August 2015, Sistani in a sermon called on Abadi to resolve internal issues in the government.

Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

The Iraqi prime minister should act in a more “daring and courageous” way in his efforts to reform the government, Sistani said at the time, urging Abadi to strike “with an iron fist anyone who is tampering with the people’s money.”

Abadi assumed power in 2014 pledging tough action against corruption. In response to Sistani’s call, he promised to combat graft and prepare a comprehensive reform plan.

Findings of an ad-hoc parliamentary committee have shown that corruption within the officers’ corps was one of the reasons the Iraqi military failed to counter the quick advance of the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the summer of 2014.

Violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq ever since Daesh launched its offensive in June of the same year. Iraq’s army soldiers and fighters from allied Popular Mobilization Units are currently battling to win back militant-held regions in joint operations.

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